Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is promoted around the world as the solution to menopausal symptoms. Many women experience symptoms caused by hormone imbalances associated with the time leading up to menopause. But, is hormone replacement therapy really a good treatment for menopausal symptoms? We will briefly look at some of the effects HRT has on the body and the results of some studies relating to long term HRT use. Lastly, we will consider some simple measures we can take to help our bodies through this phase of life.
Menopause is a natural event in a woman’s life and is defined as the final menstrual period. This is usually confirmed when a woman has no period for 12 consecutive months. Menopause usually occurs around the age of 50 and marks the permanent end of fertility.
The time before menopause is referred to as perimenopause and can last 5 to 10 years. We are often told that the symptoms experienced during and after this time are the result of a lack of estrogen. The logical conclusion based on this understanding leads to the prescription of HRT as treatment for menopausal symptoms.
Below is a list of some common symptoms experienced during the menopausal phase of a women’s life:
- menstrual irregularity
- hot flushes
- night sweats
- poor memory
- bladder problems
- mood changes
- dry or sore vagina
- more frequent headaches
- joint pain
- dry skin
- itching or burning skin
- low libido
Research carried out on perimenopausal ovaries and the effects of high or low estrogen/progesterone on menopausal symptoms has given some surprising results as outlined below:
“Research has discovered that the perimenopausal ovary (the period 5- 10 years before cessation of menstrual cycles) is more active than it has been since adolescence.
One leading researcher, endocrinologist Dr. Jerilynn Prior, has found that “the perimenopause ovary produces erratic and excess levels of estrogen, with unpredictable moods, heavy flow, hot flashes and mucous symptoms that appear suddenly and unexpectedly.” The many symptoms that women experience during the perimenopause years, such as weight gain, irrational hunger, increased migraines, heavy periods, worsening endometriosis, breast swelling (with pain or lumps), new or growing fibroids, new or increasing PMS, pelvic pain and uterine cramps are caused by high levels of estrogen.
Dr. Prior has found that the average estrogen levels in perimenopausal women are higher than in younger women. The older women not only had higher levels of estrogen but also had lower levels of progesterone.
It’s not only perimenopausal ovaries that remain active; it’s also menopausal ovaries. According the research of Dr. Celso Ramon Garcia, M.D., after menopause the ovaries continue to function working in conjunction with other body sites such as the adrenal glands, skin, muscle, brain, pineal gland, hair follicles and body fat to produce hormones.
It is now known that postmenopausal ovaries maintain a steroid capability for several decades after menses has ceased. “Older ovaries, replete with stroma material, are now understood to actively produce androstenedeione – the hormone that, in the menopausal woman, is converted to estrone, in the fat deposits of the body. This pathway can be significant in preventing osteoporosis”
Far from shriveling, the ovaries of menopausal women continue to secrete androgens, often late into the menopause, which support a woman’s wellbeing.” Source
It is believed that 20 per cent of women have no symptoms, 60 per cent have mild symptoms and 20 per cent of women have severe symptoms. Below is an interview with Dr. Sherrill Sellman discussing menopausal symptoms, particularly night sweats and hot flushes and their link with the adrenal glands and liver.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
HRT has been touted as the miracle treatment for menopausal symptoms. But recent studies on the effects of HRT have revealed some very disturbing facts.
“Further information available from the WHI study came from an analysis of women 65 years of age and over. These results found that the incidence of dementia in women receiving HRT was statistically significantly higher than those receiving placebo tablets. According to the study, an additional 23 per 10,000 women (from 22 to 45) developed signs of dementia in association with long term HRT use.
The latest information available on the issue of breast cancer risk comes from the UK Million Women Study. This study looked specifically at breast cancer and it confirmed that women on HRT have an observed higher incidence of breast cancer and a tendency to worse outcomes. New information suggested a higher mortality from breast cancer by 4-5 years for combined HRT but elevations in risk were also seen in women who received oestrogen-only HRT and tibolone (synthetic HRT).” Source
“Research published in The Lancet has reported that women who use hormone replacement therapy (HRT) are at increased risk of ovarian cancer. The results from the “Million Women Study” conducted in the UK have shown that current HRT users are on average 20 per cent more likely to develop and die from ovarian cancer than those who have never received HRT.” Source
The interview below gives us a little more insight into what Dr. Sellman found when investigating HRT.
The known side effects of hormone replacement therapy include:
- upset stomach
- stomach cramps or bloating
- appetite and weight changes
- changes in sex drive or performance
- brown or black patches on the skin
- swelling of hands, feet, or lower legs due to fluid retention
- changes in menstrual flow
- breast tenderness, enlargement, or discharge
- sudden difficulty wearing contact lenses
- double vision
- severe abdominal pain
- yellowing of skin or eyes
- severe mental depression
- unusual bleeding
- extreme tiredness or lack of energy
- dark-colored urine
- light colored stools
- Chorea – abnormal involuntary movement disorder
“There are many ways of practicing the healing art, but there is only one way that Heaven approves. God’s remedies are the simple agencies of nature, that will not tax or debilitate the system through their powerful properties. Pure air and water, cleanliness, a proper diet, purity of life, and a firm trust in God, are remedies for the want of which thousands are dying, yet these remedies are going out of date because their skillful use requires work that the people do not appreciate. Fresh air, exercise, pure water, and clean, sweet premises, are within the reach of all with but little expense; but drugs are expensive, both in the outlay of means and the effect produced upon the system.” Counsels on Health p. 323
Soybeans when used as a whole bean, that is, not as an isolate, can be very beneficial. There are constituents in soybeans and legumes in general which are beneficial for women going through menopause. Foods high in isoflavones are particularly helpful for women experiencing menopausal symptoms.
“Soy aglycons of isoflavone (SAI), a group of soybean constituent chemicals, have been shown to promote health in a rat model of the menopause. The research, described in BioMed Central’s open access journal Nutrition & Metabolism, shows how dietary supplementation with SAI lowers cholesterol, increases the anti-oxidative properties of the liver and prevents degeneration of the vaginal lining.”
“SAI itself has weak oestrogenic properties and we’ve shown here that menopause-related syndromes can be prevented or improved by dietary supplementation with the compounds it contains” – source
As outlined in a video clip above, Dr. Sellman has found that adrenal exhaustion is a contributing factor in the manifestation of menopausal symptoms. In the video clip below Dr. Sellman gives some practical information on how to replenish the adrenals.
The liver is responsible for breaking down and eliminating used or excess hormones in our system. The video clip below gives some practical measures we can take to help support liver function.
In summary we would like to encourage those who are thinking of or are currently taking HRT to consider the potential effects this drug can have on your body. Given the results of numerous studies we believe that the risk of serious side effects is high. We would encourage you to consider your lifestyle and dietary habits, remembering that your Creator has given you a body that works in harmony with the laws of health.